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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Tuesday 18 July 2023

North Korean's onto the tabletop

 The second part of my Korean War project has made progress with the painting of my North Korean and Chinese forces. Or at least enough to get some tabletop action. I was drawn into this project after researching the Turkish Brigade, and I wasn't looking forward to painting large numbers of similar figures. However, in 10mm, it wasn't too bad.

The North Korean armed forces had a fair amount of combat experience before the Korean War. Korean communists, including their leader, Kim Il-Sung, fought against the Japanese invasion of China in 1932. He returned with the Soviets in 1945 and took power backed by his 150,000-strong People's Militia. North Korean troops also assisted the Chinese communists in their struggle with the Nationalists. By 1950, the Korean People's Army was 223,000 strong organised into ten infantry divisions. They also had an armoured brigade equipped with T34/85 tanks.  

The figures are from the Pendraken range. As with the Turks, I struggled a bit with the uniform shade. It apparently developed a yellowish hue with wear and tear. I started with a desert yellow primer for depth and a light wash mix of pale sand and yellow. There aren't too many details to pick out, thank goodness, in 10mm! The exception is the distinct shoulder boards that retained their original olive green colour. I finished with a brown wash that sinks well into the fantastic detail that Pendraken achieves with these diminutive warriors.

The Chinese had a slightly different uniform shade. For these, I primed with a light sand rattle can I picked up at an art shop. Then painted the details and gave them a brown wash. I finished these in a few hours, although they needed the hairdryer treatment to dry the bases for Sunday's game. 

Armour and artillery came from my WW2 Soviets, a big time saver.

For the first tabletop outing at the club, I adapted Scenario 3 from the Blitzkrieg Commander, Korean War supplement. The Battle of Wawon, 27-29th November 1950. This was fought over very hilly terrain, so I dusted down my old Spearhead hills that define height well without the bases sliding down the hills.

The Turkish Brigade is on the right, hastily dug in around the village of Wawon, which covered a vital road junction. The North Korean and Chinese forces had to capture the village. They sent their tank regiment down the centre, pushing infantry attacks on both flanks. The historical battle didn't include armour, but I gave the Turks a supporting US tank company to balance the game. 

The special rules in the supplement make North Korean infantry pretty devastating if they get into hand-to-hand combat. They bounce back if knocked out rather than being destroyed. A bit like fighting zombies! Balanced in this scenario by the Turks getting the 'tough' rule. Correctly in my view, given their historical performance. However, on the left, the North Koreans were destroyed by gunfire. They did better on the right, only stopped by the Turkish reserve, plugging the gap. Always keep a reserve!

By this stage, both forces had lost half their points, and although the North Korean armour had reached the village, they needed infantry to take the handful of Turkish units left inside. Technically a Turkish victory, but I conceded it was probably a draw.

An excellent game, which has whetted my appetite for more Korean War action. My WW2 British can go straight onto the table. I'll just need to paint up some more Chinese.


  1. That sounds an interesting game. As you say, it never hurts to have more Chinese … 😉

  2. Great work on those figures. REally like the game pictures too. The number of hills would be challenging to do anyway but they way you did.



    1. Thanks. The hills are not the most realistic, but they are a practical solution.